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Trials & Litigation

Jury awards longtime smoker $12.5M in case against Philip Morris

Posted Aug 26, 2013 5:03 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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John Rizzuto could have tried harder to quit, rather than continuing to smoke for four decades, as evidence mounted about the health risks of cigarettes, lawyers for manufacturers argued.

But a Florida jury apparently disagreed, awarding the 66-year-old retired mail carrier $12.5 million on Friday, against defendants Philip Morris USA and the Liggett Group. Of that amount, $2.5 million was for past and future medical expenses for his COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The rest was for pain and suffering, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

Rizzuto and his lawyers admitted a "shared responsibility" for his condition, which has made it difficult or impossible for him to perform ordinary tasks, like walking his dog, and worried about becoming a burden to his family. However, the dangers of smoking weren't apparent to Rizzuto when he began, at age 13, his counsel argued, and that was because manufacturers concealed the health consequences.

There's no word from the newspaper about whether the defendants plan to appeal the verdict in the Brooksville case.

An earlier Scripps Media article provides additional details.

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